Essay

The “Energetics” of Money and Marketing

By Duff McDuffee on November 18th, 2010 1

I recently received an email from someone (name omitted since I respect this person for other work they do and they literally live in my neighborhood) promoting an event called “The Energetics of the Abundant Mystic Telesummit.” After a brief personal introduction, the email contained the following explanation (links removed):

Details of the Energetic Abundant Mystic Telesummit…

Learn Practical Energy Tools for Creating TRUE Abundance

10 Master teachers share powerful energy tools for abundance The Energetics of TRUE Abundance started Monday~

This telesummit is going to rock your world!

It i a unique opportunity for you to learn, in an intensive format, powerful, practical energy tools for creating TRUE Abundance in YOUR life!
Click here to listen to all of the amazing interviews:

This is an Intensive for one full week:

Unlike other telesummits, this is an intensive and runs for just one week. Each day there will be 2 featured faculty sessions. And there is absolutely no cost to you to participate in all of these abundance-enhancing live calls!

You’ll get fr-ee access to 10 Master Teachers sharing their insights and, more importantly, leading you through powerful, experiential processes to awaken the energetic flow of abundance in YOU!

Every one of the master teachers in this summit will share at least one experiential process that will tap you into a deeper connection with TRUE Abundance.

Oh and just for signing up, you’ll receive some amazing bonus gifts from the faculty, over $200 worth of gifts to be exact!

When you join the Energetics of TRUE Abundance you’ll have the opportunity to participate in 10 life changing sessions. And it will cost you absolutely nothing to be on the live calls.

These sessions will, quite literally, transform your life. Next week, you could look back at this moment and say, “This was the moment I chose TRUE Abundance for my life!”

I hope to see you on the Energetics of TRUE Abundance summit!

To sign up for FREE telesummitt and listen to the wonderful interviews~

The link in the email goes here, to a manipulative bait-and-switch “squeeze page” that features a manically gesticulating man enthusiastically spouting vague nonsense reminiscent of Steve Jobs and his lackeys hyping the latest “revolutionary” product.

The squeeze page promises a free teleseminar, only to deceptively then sell the website visitor with a long form sales letter for an “upgrade” (since the original free offer is actually somewhat inconvenient to take advantage of) once you hand over your name and email. All of this is pretty standard fare, as these kinds of marketing sales pages are templates designed by scam artist gurus like the members of the internet marketing cartel known as The Syndicate.

Energy, Emotion, and Bad Metaphors

Like Repels Like

In New Age jargon, “energy” doesn’t refer to electricity and magnetism but means emotion, especially emotion felt as sensations on the body—but new agers are rarely very precise in their language, often preferring vague terms to specific ones. Nevertheless, electrical energy is a relatively common and fitting metaphor for many emotional states and bodily sensations:

  • “I’m feeling energized”
  • “I’m drained” (as in a electric battery)
  • “It hit me like a bolt of lightning”
  • “When they first saw each other, they were immediately attracted” (as in a magnet)
  • etc.

To some extent, how we think and feel influences other people and the behaviors we are likely to engage in—sometimes even in ways that seem magical, surprising, or mysterious. If nothing else is working to make a desired change, this hard-to-pin-down energetic X-factor is often what is missing. This simple insight has been turned into an extreme ideological position in the so-called “Law of Attraction,” aka “The Science of Success” which is codified in the aphorism “like attracts like.” Whereas electrical energy fits as a metaphor for emotion, “like attracts like” immediately strikes anyone with a grade-school knowledge of physics as deeply flawed, since positive charged particles in fact attract negatively charged ones.

Water, fire, air and dirt
Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lyin’, and getting me pissed.

– Insane Clown Posse, Miracles (2009)

Even though we do in fact know a whole lot about how magnets work, one can still experience awe that the Universe has been constructed with such intricate complexity. Similarly, the experiences we have when we are “aligned” or “in energetic resonance with” a particular course of action or desired outcome are actually quite predictable and rational especially in hindsight, even though our experience of such times can be deeply, profoundly moving. Or as the Insane Clown Posse so memorably put it…

"Magic everywhere in this bitch" -Insane Clown Posse meme

Despite the backwards magnetic metaphor, our thoughts and emotions do have some influence on what we “attract” into our lives, and changing our overall worldview, state, or way of being is sometimes a useful leverage point in achieving the outcomes we want.

In essence, “the energetics of money” therefore refers to the overall gestalt of we generally feel, think, and behave about money, spending, saving, investing, earnings, etc. It also refers to the likely consequences of our behaviors and the types of people we associate with. Pretty much everyone has some unreasonable fears, worries, avoidance behavior, unhelpful attitudes, or irrational logic when dealing with personal finances. For instance, one might worry incessantly about having enough money in savings, becoming an utter miser even though one’s bank account has many years worth of expenses saved. Or one might do the opposite, spending a large paycheck entirely and never saving, taking out additional credit to purchase more and more unnecessary consumer goods and services.

Sometimes these unhelpful behaviors are primarily psychological and can be dealt with on the personal level of “energetics.” At other times it is more accurate to see certain unhelpful behaviors, negative feedback loops, or financial suffering as systemic, a result of economic policy, gentrification, predatory lending practices, ecological destruction, or other social, cultural, or political forces. “Law of Attraction” proponents typically blame victims of economic policies and other collective, systemic forces as having bad attitudes and having “attracted” their fate, which is why I call this an extreme ideological view based on a real psychological insight taken far out of its proper context.

The Energetics of the Bait and Switch

So what is the energetics of the marketing tactics used in selling this “telesummit” on the energetics of money? Well, my response to the sales page was disgust, righteous indignation, and the thought “this is another bullshit new age bait-and-switch scam.” Since energy in this case is a metaphor for emotion and thought, this page “attracted” these responses from me and my response therefore constitutes at least part of the overall “energetics” of this approach to money. In other words, the energetics of this bait and switch is—at least in part and to some people—scammy, scummy, greedy, sleazy, manipulative, coercive, not forthright, cheesy, below the belt, whatever you want to call it. No matter what any of the “faculty” of this teleseminar say during their actual calls, the way the whole event is promoted frames the energetics of the event itself.

But wait…I can already hear the New Agers’ response: “no, that’s your energy, Duff. It’s a reflection of your own ‘money shadow,’ ‘poverty consciousness,’ blah blah blah.” Nope—bait and switch is bait and switch. I fully acknowledge that I am an imperfect human being. I also acknowledge that other people may have a different response to a bait and switch tactic like this one. The fact remains however that there is some deception going on here.

This kind of marketing will reliably elicit compliance through creating cognitive dissonance, but it is not straightforward, up-front, compassionate or frankly, right. That’s my opinion at least, and I want nothing to do with anyone who would be a part of something like this, due to the bad juju being emitted from it. It would be an entirely different “energetic” if the sales pitch was on the home page, or there was some information about the schedule and pricing up front, and if the sales pitch was straightforward and down to earth. It would especially be a different energetic if some of the criticisms of the extreme “Law of Attraction” view were acknowledged and integrated, removing all blame and shame towards those who are not currently living in financial abundance, and acknowledging the systematic oppression and hegemony of the global economic situation at large.

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42 responses to “The “Energetics” of Money and Marketing”

  1. Oliver says:

    Energetics of Energetics… Double Energetics… WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

  2. Gina says:

    Duff, that was down right nasty -bait and switch . At least now the new age is showing it's true colors.

    Good God, it was like watching Saturday Night Live, are you sure this is for real?

    If so I'm in the market for a cave.

  3. 32000days says:

    Warning: chemistry and physics ahead.

    Loosely speaking, "like attracts like" is a reasonable thing to say about polar vs non polar solvents. In other words, you have to shake your salad dressing to mix it, and it will eventually separate out.

    Polar solvents like water or alcohols have, as their name implies, a permanent electric dipole (i.e. part of the molecule is positively charged, and part is negatively charged). As a result of this, the positive part of one water molecule attracts strongly the negative part of another water molecule. As a result, on average, water attracts water strongly and squishes away the oil molecules, which hang together with each other relatively more weakly.

    So yeah, "like attracts like" in the oil and water case, but it's because of a smaller scale "unlike attracts like"…

    And the analogy of this with human society and psychology is… not very much.
    My recent post How to deal with fear – a counterintuitive strategy

  4. Stephen Lark says:

    Read this on Reddit the other day:

    Buddha, the furniture store, and the Amway salesmen http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/e7h85/

    • LucyMontrose says:

      What really rankles me is that the sleazy salesman personality has become a big exemplar of social and communication skills, at least in the US. I know I'm not the only one who has worried that since my ability to walk into a room and instantly make people's eyes light up is, at best, average; then that means I lack emotional intelligence.

      What you said about the pressure to exude enthusiasm and confidence on the job, Duff, is potentially not just about our livelihoods, but our very characters and identities as mentally sound, or unstable, people.

      The workplace is a *huge* social and cultural engineer, since that's where we spend the majority of our time. I did notice that we started adding more and more kids to the autism spectrum list about the same time as our whittling of jobs not having to do with sales, customer service, or finance really took off– jobs, in other words, where having a sleazy salesman personality is actually a big plus. Could there be a connection there?

      • I've been thinking about related things a lot. For instance, I have learned methods for gaining rapport with others. This was helpful for me because I'm an introvert and haven't always known how to relate to other people. Most books on rapport however emphasize things like "connect deeply with anyone…instantly!" etc. But I don't want to connect with anyone and everyone, let alone deeply. The only reasons I can think of to connect with everyone is a) your personality is that of an extreme extrovert, b) you are selling something or trying to get something from the other, or c) you are a neurotic people pleaser. Otherwise, getting just enough rapport but keeping a comfortable distance may be more appropriate…at least when communicating with strangers.

        Similarly for exuding positive energy, charisma, or positive affect/happiness. There are limits to how happy non-salesman need to be—any more than that and I think it's reasonable to suspect "this person is trying to sell me something."

        Since the economy must continue to grow at an ever-expanding rate, we must Always Be Closing, selling each other on our personal brands, products, and services, even ourselves as a product to our employers, lovers, friends, and the general public.

  5. LucyMontrose says:

    Praytell, what's wrong with "poverty consciousness"? Sounds like a good thing; sounds like empathy for the poor and their plight. These New -Wagers better work on their framing if their goal is to get us to avoid poor people and their "negative energy". As Gina implied, I think they're getting a bit sloppy.

  6. Jacq @ SMRM says:

    My main beef with programs like this is the "instant" / "no work" context that they operate from. Having been the type that might have gone for this program years ago, I know that it appealed to my lazier side that didn't want to do anything that I didn't LOOOOOVE, wanted results without sweat or silly limitations like – oh, I don't know – not buying whatever I wanted.

    But they appeal to that inner part of us that really doesn't want to have to work that hard. I've noticed that everywhere that I haven't accepted that I actually have to control myself, work hard and stay conscious on a regular basis to achieve results (like weight loss and keeping a food diary, forcing myself to exercise whether I feel like it or not) is where I personally am – or used to be – kind of fascinated with the "instant" / "miracle" / "healing something fundamentally wrong" solutions.

    Some of the most wealthy or financially astute people I've known have a very dominant "poverty consciousness", whether they grew up in the Great Depression, grew up in poverty or in a 3rd world country and came here as immigrants, were single parents that wanted a better life for their kids…

    What are your thoughts that these things may have become more popular due to the self-esteem / narcissism / entitlement movement over the last 40 years or so? I was just reading "Generation We" by Jean Twenge and it was helpful for me to understand why there is even concepts out there like being – ahem, "paid to exist". The original "new thought" writers like Wallace D. Wattles didn't just talk about magic and miracles, they also talked about the value of hard work and focus. Maybe one part of the original LoA recipe has been left out.

    • I've been taken in by my own greed as well.

      From the Wikipedia entry for "Confidence Trick":
      A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle or bamboozle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, grifter, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills. Confidence men or women exploit characteristics of the human psyche such as greed, both dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, and naïveté. Confidence men or women have victimized individuals from all walks of life.

      I'm not sure exactly why these things have become more popular in the last 40 years or so, but it does seem to correspond with the Me (Boomer) Generation and their kids and the corresponding entitlement most of us feel nowadays. I wonder if this will change with the changing environmental and economic conditions to more of a hard work mentality again. Personally, I'm all for working hard while relaxing as much as possible so it doesn't have to feel quite so hard. But I'm also pretty lazy and trying to improve that about myself.

      • Gina says:

        Wow this discussion is bring up all kinds of feelings for me Duff! I wrote such a long response I had to delete it πŸ™‚ I will take my thoughts to my journal and perhaps be back with a concise response…suffice it to say Mahalo!

        • I hope the discussion is stirring up good things for you and not just bad things! πŸ™‚

          • Gina says:

            Ahh Duff… it is all good! Ha!

            I had a delight to find I am so willing to keep trying to walk the path to right livelihood. Yet there is so much to wade through, I've been swindled and fooled, I've been lazy and tried shortcuts but it has all brought me here to this moment of ok-ness. Not perfection by any stretch but a tad bit wiser and curious for another day.

            Glad to have had the opening to inquire within today.

      • Richard Leon says:

        The Con Trick is a fundamental feature of US morality. It goes back much further than 40 years – at least to the days of Mark Twain, and possibly further.

        As a European I've always been baffled by the transparent delight which board level executives, marketing people, financial 'wizards', internet marketers, scammers, spammers and other undesirables take in defrauding and cheating their fellow humans.

        Of course it happens in Europe too, but it's not celebrated or worshipped, and it's not a keystone of corporate culture.

        In the US, in comparison, the attitude seems to be that if you're scammed it's your own fault for being so trusting and gullible. Not the huckster's for stealing from you.

        Since lack of empathy and glibness are elements of narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy, this leads to interesting questions about the mental health of business practice in the US. It's really quite odd.

        • LucyMontrose says:

          Hi, Richard. You say a lot of good things here and I'm sorry your message didn't get a higher rating. Maybe you got low-rated because you said conning is fundamental to US morality, which isn't entirely true; though I do believe it's unspokenly fundamental to today's US *business* morality. More specific and more accurate.

          One really salient feature in America is how much everything gets spinned as caring, empathy, relationship-oriented, loving, etc. Even the most cruel, austere and reductive corporate policies. Because those words and frames are "trendy" and they even have some hard psychological science to back them up. At any rate, we experience cognitive dissonance in real time between the sweet words and sour actions, and by the time we wise up it's too late to do anything about them.

          It's kind of funny to me how authoritarians have to resort to mental games and cognitive dissonance to get their way nowadays, instead of brute force or blunt coercion…

      • Jacq @ SMRM says:

        Oh hell, I'm all about the lazy way. Lazy is great for finding better or easier ways of doing things, delegating, all that kind of thing. Laziness is a double edged sword – good in moderation I guess. Like anything, it has its place.

        My guess is that your recession has to last a bit longer to have any real effect upon the culture. We went through double digit unemployment here where I live in the 1980's-1990's (over 10 years) and I think it impacted my generation positively (in hindsight) but not so much the people that came of age later. But that's kind of OT so I won't go there. Something to blog about though, since my main blog is personal finance oriented. πŸ˜›

  7. Evan says:

    It's the lack of acknowledgement of social reality that annoys me most.

    It's awfully hard to come up with a definition of energy though. (Physicists tend to rely on equations – what does my jumping if I sit on a pin have to do with temperature exactly?)

    • The notion of energy in physics has always bugged me. I actually dropped out of high school physics because I refused to continue with the equations until I understood the basic assumptions of electricity and magnetism. I've been meaning to return to this study ever since…

    • LucyMontrose says:

      It's the lack of acknowledgement of social reality that annoys me most.

      One great source of relief for me was finding out how much kinder social reality is, than the cultural tomes would have you believe. How you really don't have to twist yourself into a psychological pretzel and get scant reward for it.

      The whole problem is, too many of the institutions we depend on for livelihoods and services, are also socially unreal.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Karri! Personally, I prefer straight-talk when giving a sales pitch: "I have X to sell. It solves or addresses Y problem. It costs $Z. Interested?" Anything else is beating around the bush, driven by fear or greed or something else besides a simple transaction between rational adults.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Duff, since this is my first post I have to say I LOVE this website! I am glad you are speaking out in such a cogent way about the personal growth materials that have the capacity to frustrate and hurt people (not to mention refuting the standard arguments the gurus use against anyone who questions or complains, lovely)

      So, this email you got, they are all about this abundance mindset, then they use 5 "what-ifs" – FEAR! – to try to sell you the upgrade!! Knowing what we know about LoA-ers, isn't that hypocritical?

      • Emma says:

        Oh, and don't you love the "you will put more effort into it because you made a financial investment in it, so pay us in order to make yourself do the work" – what garbage! Is that what you were referring to as "cognitive dissonance", that people will resolve the dissonance by putting effort into something they paid for? If so, resolving cognitive dissonance would also make you think that because you paid money for this program (and don't want to go into the dissonant thought that you wasted your money), that the program must have value. (Which it may actually not!)

        • Emma says:

          In any case, going over the speakers' list….

          I recommend you go to your local library and read either/both of Anodea Judith's books, "Eastern Body, Western Mind" and "Waking the Global Heart". I took a yoga class with her in 2009 when she was in my city teaching at a yoga conference. I believe she taught us both the exercises listed here for her. I also believe she has another book that teaches you those and more bioenergetic and yoga exercises for each chakra. She is not very LoA-oriented unless she has changed remarkably in the last year and a half.

          • Emma says:

            Robert Scheinfeld's "Busting Loose from the Money Game" and "Busting Loose from the Business Game" I have also read from my public library (then again I live in Toronto, Canada and never cease to be surprised at the extensive New Age/self-help titles they carry, your city may not be the same). He actually refutes the common application of the Law of Attraction, he says people spend too much time focusing on the creations, and not on the energy going into them. Still, I don't buy this "you create it *all*" thing.

            Lion Goodman has some free stuff (audio, pdf) on his website.

            So, I'm kind of wrecking their show πŸ™‚
            I (playfully) challenge readers here to go to these speakers websites and see what you can get for free.

          • Yea, you definitely don't create it "all" (unless you confuse the Absolute with the individual, as is common in New Age Narcissism), but there is something useful to "energetics" although usually stretched way out of proportion in these types of offerings.

          • I really like Anodea Judith and especially Easter Body, Western Mind—it's sad to me that she decided to be a part of something marketed in this way.

        • I hate that logic–it stretches a half-truth into a manipulative pitch.

          The cognitive dissonance I was referring to specifically is normally called "guilt-tripping." It's when you give someone something apparently for free and as an offer of good faith, then turn around and basically frame it as if they owe you one. This kind of marketing that gives away a "free" gift that actually sucks and then sells you on the premium version effectively uses guilt/shame to get sales.

      • Hi Emma, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

        Nice catch there with the scarcity tactics for the "abundance" workshop. LOL

  9. LucyMontrose says:

    Apologies for potential threadjacking:

    Looks like we all need a comprehensive list of companies whose CEOs are into self-help. Because they create a workplace culture that pressures their employees to buy into it, or else they'll become "negative people lacking in emotional intelligence and communication skills"… no matter how many times the boss says it's not mandatory.

    Lululemon Athletica's CEO loves Landmark and requires all his managers to attend their seminars. Now I read that the co-CEO of Panda Express is into all manner of self-help (including Landmark and Steven Covey), and is urging his management to join him in a non-mandatory way: http://rickross.com/reference/landmark/landmark27

    How long till this trickles down to the rank and file?
    And I know these aren't the only companies who make their employees do this stuff. As we go job-hunting, it would be a good idea to find out which ones are.

    • LucyMontrose says:

      The whole point is, pay no attention to words from your boss. Look at who gets promoted, who is put in positions of power and influence, and there you have your portrait of their most desirable person. Next comes the question of how to either become that person… or fight it, if it turns out it's a person you don't want to be, and you don't want your career stunted because you aren't this person.

      No matter what anyone says, workplace pressure Is. F*cking. Mandatory. It feels that way, we perceive it as such, the principle of social proof all but guarantees it as such.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Lucy,

      I just discovered this blog last week, and I was just waiting to find a reference to the Lululemon/Landmark thing!!

      As if Landmark wasn't bad enough (I have not been myself, but read enough about it to know I am not getting anywhere near it), things become even further removed by the co-opting of "spiritual" principles for corporate purposes. If business leaders become more spiritual, fine, but what seems to be happening is they are only borrowing the parts they like.

    • I think we can safely assume that nearly all CEOs are into self-help—just pick up any business book.

      That said, it is one thing to personally be into something and another entirely to force or subtly coerce employees to attend a dangerous LGAT like Landmark.

  10. Chris says:

    Yes, from an "energetic" standpoint, I find myself overwhelmed by the loudness of this sales pitch — not in volume, but in the sense of its grasping and relentless quality — and I haven't even gone beyond the written sales copy. And, I don't think it will be controversial to say that people can present themselves or their products in an "energetically overwhelming" way in many different contexts — whether at a party, or in selling some "non-New-Agey" product such as steam cleaners. I think personal development at its best actually helps us to become aware of our own "energy" and how that of others affects us.

  11. Tatiana says:

    The email you copied in your post above appeals to the needs and wants of most of the recipients. And I am guilty of laziness myself, and such products did entice my interest for several years. And it's not so surprising – that what was pitched as free turns out to be a paid product. I loved how you dissected the group of "guru's," and their intentions, as well as their marketing practices.
    My recent post A terrific post about Wise Owls and Old Fools…

    • Often marketers appeal to the worst in people to get them to act. The funny part to me was that this email was for a teleconference on the "energetics" of money as if it was going to be an enlightened take on the subject, but blatantly appealed to laziness and greed primarily.

      That said, I have been suckered in by my own laziness and greed more times than I'd like to admit!

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